Xenophobia erupts in SA

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has called for an emergency meeting between senior Zimbabwean officials and their Pretoria counterparts after an orgy of anti-immigrant violence rocked South Africa yesterday, leaving tens of thousands of Zimbabweans and other foreigners in severe trauma.

The violence, which occurred mainly around Pretoria, came days after the leader of a fringe new opposition party, South Africa First — Mario Khumalo — had promised to drive out all foreigners and also close South Africa’s borders to outsiders within 48 hours of winning elections.

Yesterday’s barbaric attacks evoked ugly memories of the deadly xenophobic attacks of 2015 which displaced hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans and other African immigrants living in South Africa, following inflammatory remarks by eccentric Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, who had called for the expulsion of foreigners.

Then, the xenophobic violence only stopped after pictures of a Mozambican immigrant, Emmanuel Sithole — who was bludgeoned to death with knives and a wrench by marauding anti-fellow black thugs — caught the world’s attention when they were released by South Africa’s biggest circulating newspaper, the Sunday Times.

Zimbabwe’s acting Foreign Affairs permanent secretary, David Hamadziripi, told the Daily News yesterday that they were already meeting with their South African authorities over the grave matter.

“I will be able to give you a comprehensive response after I gather all the information, as there are on-going meetings between South Africa and African diplomats over the developments,” Hamadziripi said.

Up to three million Zimbabweans running away from rampant poverty and suffering in their country of birth are estimated to be living in South Africa, most of them illegally.

Yesterday’s violence saw police arresting 136 people in the wild attacks which left foreigners, particularly Africans living in South Africa, fearing for the worst.

A foreign national is confronted by South Africans during xenophobic attacks. Pic: File - eNCA

South Africa’s Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba was quick to plead with his countrymen to act responsibly, while President Jacob Zuma also called for tolerance, even as their pleas mostly fell on deaf ears, with the violence spreading around the capital city.

“Disgruntlement raised by communities is around competition for jobs, access to economic opportunities and alleged criminal activities involving foreign nationals. These include drug peddling and prostitution.

“I have met with protest organisers and have appealed to them to express themselves responsibly,” Gigaba said.

The rampaging South Africans said they were angry because foreigners were allegedly taking their jobs and operating many businesses in the country at their expense.

They also expressed anger at the proliferation of churches run by Zimbabweans which they said should be shut down.

In their petition given to South Africa’s Home Affairs, the locals also said foreigners should be banned from operating taxi motorbikes because the petitioners believed they lacked qualifications.

They also called for the super-fast and ubiquitous taxi service Uber to be banned, saying the authorities needed to consider public safety — adding, “This is not India or Nigeria where passenger safety is not put first”.

They also said Zimbabweans, Tanzanians, Nigerians and other African nationals should be stopped from driving cars that were illegally brought into the country, and should further have international drivers’ licences.

“Foreigners are charging unfair prices in hair salons, a situation that has destroyed South Africa’s hair industry.

“Businesses owned by black South Africans have been destroyed. We are driven into slavery by black and white South Africans,” they added.

They also claimed that Zimbabweans were not respecting the laws of the country, especially with their apostolic churches whose followers worshipped in the open while allegedly destroying public parks and “pooping and urinating” everywhere.

They said programmes should be introduced to “educate foreign nationals to speak properly ... They are arrogant and don’t know how to speak to people, especially Nigerians”.

Local opposition parties also blamed Mugabe and his government for pushing locals into exile due to poor political and economic policies.

Reacting to the crisis, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC said Zimbabwe’s worsening economic mayhem had pushed people to trek to South Africa.

“Of course, the Zanu PF regime is centrally involved in the pauperisation of the majority of the people.

“As a result, most young Zimbabweans are left with no other alternative but to seek economic refuge in neighbouring countries, particularly in South Africa,” MDC spokesperson  Obert Gutu told the Daily News.

“There are no jobs for the majority of our people here in Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans who seek economic refuge in South Africa are mostly the youth, some of whom are university graduates. They take up menial jobs because they are poor and desperate.

“Mugabe and the Zanu PF dictatorship that he fronts should be held accountable for the xenophobic attacks on poor Zimbabweans who have run away from abject poverty and destitution in their home country.

“Diplomacy will, thus, not be a lasting solution. The only viable solution is to kick out the Zanu PF dictatorship warts and all. Thereafter, we can then start to reconstruct Zimbabwe,” Gutu added.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson, Jacob Mafume, said South Africa should take policy positions to protect Zimbabwean citizens in the country, as well as ensure a democratic transition of power in Harare to stop the influx of Zimbabweans to South Africa.

“South Africa must educate its citizens that they are their brother’s keeper. And also South Africa needs to show concern in the politics of its neighbours because the reason why Zimbabweans are flocking to South Africa is because of worsening economic and political crisis here,” Mafume said.

“South Africa must make sure that there is a democratic transfer of power in Zimbabwe and not a sexually transmitted one, including voting for a corpse like we have heard.

“We urge Zimbabweans to participate in the governance processes through registering to vote and voting for the government they want and a country they want to live in,” he added.

Fringe South African opposition leader Khumalo recently promised to drive out all foreigners and to also close the country’s borders within 48 hours of winning elections.

“We are not xenophobic but we work in the interest of South Africans. It is about national identity and pride. There is no nationality called African. You are either South African‚ Angolan or Ethiopian.

“My (identity document) states that I am a South African‚ not African‚” he told South African media earlier this week.

According to the rabidly xenophobic 37-year-old who grew up in the United States of America, there are more than five million Zimbabweans‚ nearly six million Malawians and 3,2 million Nigerians in the country.

“Now add millions more from Mozambique‚ Pakistan and Congo .... It cannot be‚” he said.

He said the presence of so many foreign nationals in South Africa was causing suffering and creating social and economic problems.

Comments (5)

is this how Khumalo was treated when he was in the US

xoxo - 25 February 2017


CHAOMA - 27 February 2017

South Africans don't like most of the jobs being done by foreign nationals in their country.A good number of them are lazy,they don't like to work in mines,farms and industries.Some of them(South Africans)do appreciate that their country will be on its knees without the foreigners working in their mines,farms,hospitals,industries and colleges/universities.

wilburt. - 27 February 2017

Let's face reality people, about 12 million out of 52 million people in SA are foreigners. Only about 40 million are SA. thats about 1 in 5 people being foreiner. it is surely unfair on the part of south africans, though not justifying xhenophobia. @wilburt south africans are not lazy, anyone will choose the easier jobs given options. didn't malawian work NRZ acqquiring houses thereby in Lockinvar Harare, Tshabalala, Sizinda Bulawayo because you Zimbabweans shunned away from manial jobs? SAs have the right to choose jobs, let them enjoy their country, let us work towards developing our Zimbabwe so that we can stay here. Of course SAs got to remember that during Apartheid they sort refuge in Zimbabwe and the rest of the world. Especially Jacob Nkandla, he did years in Zimbabwe, remember Gedlie?

Spectetor - 28 February 2017

This people are just useless,complaining over everything and who told them 3.2 million Nigeria live in SA,this people are fool,there growing no of SA population in Nigeria,taking our Job and our men,but are not complaining,by the time will start attacking SA it going to be worst,anyway no need to attack SA company in Nigeria,because most of the SA company in Nigeria are own by the Europeans

Don - 26 March 2017

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